Aren’t we all One — after all?
First a little recollection about a frivolous time leading up to my secret reminiscences.
Many years ago I drove across America in my old Chevrolet with a companion from India, Brij Toofan. That last name means typhoon in English, and in many ways it fit him well.
We camped out alongside the road along the way – sometimes in Forest Service campgrounds. Sometimes in farmers’ fields. Sometimes in public parks in small towns.
We got to bed late and rose early.
No matter where we were the Typhoon chanted out loudly upon awaking. He sang it in Hindustani his native language.
I’ll try to write it phonetically:
Son a chela
Yay cha la cha lee
Kah may la
Probably no Indian will understand what my phonetics says in Hindustani. I asked Brij what it meant. He said simply enough.
The guru says
To his student
Life is a great carnival
Of coming and going.
I loved hearing Brij chanting. And I’m sure at times he woke up some small town people with his typhoon voice.
I loved it because it says so much about my own ninety-year walk through life.
I saw a lot.
I lived a lot.
I had a lot of different jobs.
I met many interesting people.
I enjoyed a lot.
I suffered some.
But, all in all, it’s been a great carnival of coming and going.
It’s possible with age to have a lighter, less serious look back at the goings and comings of my life.
I like that.
I do have regrets about some things I did.
But barely any regrets for things I didn’t get to do.
I followed my grandad, my father’s father in a lot of ways.
I was one of the last persons he saw from his deathbed.
He said things that jibed with my own walk.
At one point grandad smacked his lips, smiled and said, “I loved the taste of that Irish whiskey.”
And still another time, with an even wider smile and eyes crinkled at the corners, he said, “Ah-h-h-h, those Spanish girls!”
That was something of a surprise since I’d only ever known grandad as the bishop of three non-denominational Christian churches and the spiritual head of our extended family.
For what I want to recall is what I’ve learned about the reality out there and around us that I’ve always wondered about.
Some of that of course is about women.
And I did my share of boozing with fond memories of savoring the scent and taste of French Armanac.
I recall one evening when my father returned from somewhere abroad, stayed at my home.
We stayed up into the early hours of the morning drinking a fifth of Armanac between us.
As we went off to bed I thanked him for bringing home the Armanac to share with me, and said, “I really love it!”
He said, “I’m glad you love it. If I’d known you liked it that much we could have saved it for you and drank some plain old rye whiskey like Seagrams Seven Crown. It would have been just as good to me.”
In time my drinking became a problem and I joined AA.
If I’d not had that problem I’d still be drinking today – for the enormous fun I had and the comforting I got from the bottle.
Let me take a still more serious turn
I want write about what I’ve come to believe about the spiritual side of life. What it has disclosed to me.
Maybe somehow bring the spirits we were drinking with the spirituality I’d been noticing about life.
There are two things that seemed so obvious to me from an early age.
- I am. I exist as a person in this body.
- There is a reality — in me and all around me. No matter what we believe about it, there is only one reality out there all around us, as well as our inner life of thoughts, feelings and memories. Call any of it illusory, it still is impossible to deny its existence. Even if only dream, fantasy or mirage – it still exists.
I experience these two facts. You do as well.
Though to each of us, they are different. We nonetheless know they are real, though we are different — I’m not you and you’re not me.
Actually this may be the third thing we cannot deny – that we are different.
But it’s all just differences of perception. Aren’t our differences in our perspectives what we mean by our differences.
There’s a lot of talk today that, “We’re all One.”
That though, is not so obvious. So we cannot go there without acknowledging that we are different in how we see things. It’s like the five blind men and the elephant.
One feels the ears and says the elephant is floppy like the ears. Another thinks it more like the rope-like feel of the tail. Another that it is more like the curved, pointed tusk. The fourth says that it is a rough wall-like feel of the side of the elephant. And the fifth, that it is really like a tree trunk having wrapped his arms around the elephant’s leg.
While we may be One, we sure act as though we are different. And like each of the five blind men arguing that each of their limited ways of observing parts of the elephant that that is true of the whole, large beast.
We cannot deny that physically we are all made of the same substance — water, chemicals, blood, bones, etc. And when the body dies it returns to ashes and dust — same as every other person ever born.
So on the physical side we are all one mass of physical substances, same as all others.
Where we have more difficulty with our one-ness is in the inner life, which seems different for each of us.
Or is it?
Don’t we all share the same types of thoughts, feelings, hurts and pleasures?
Aren’t we all moving through the same great carnival of coming and going?
Like the five blind men, aren’t we just limited in seeing things from our blindness to the whole big picture?
And isn’t it just our limited sensual view of the carnival that makes us feel as if we are separate individuals?
Just a bit of rambling thoughts.
If you don’t share them, that’s alright. May only be that you’re holding onto the elephant’s tusk and I’ve got hold of its ear.
And when we’re through with this great carnival of coming and going, it won’t make much difference to us.
Or will it?
Check it out when you and I both get “over there.” Let’s see what it’s like then.